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Psychologically, Be Prepared for the "Four Phases"

Boots and Blessings, Rev. Joanna Fontaine Crawford

For those who work with communities hit by disaster -- say, a hurricane -- there is a predictable cycle of four phases that a community will go through: Heroic, Honeymoon, Disillusionment, and Reconstruction.

Our disaster is different, in that it is ongoing, we don't really know when the worst will happen, we don't know when it will end, and we don't know what it will be like on the other side.

But it is already a disaster affecting all of our lives. And though we are all unique, our wiring is such that most of us will follow this model, though it will not be as nice and neat as a graph.

We have been, I believe, mostly in the heroic and honeymoon phases. We jumped into inaction, staying at home to flatten the curve. Many others have taken extra steps, to help improve the situation for those on the front lines, and to enhance the well-being of all of us.

But disillusionment is lapping at our heels. It worries me. Not the greater disillusionment that is deserved, of government officials who turned the other way or outright lied about the disaster unfolding. Yes, that is deserved.

But I worry that weighed down with the anxiety and powerlessness we feel, that we will begin turning on one another. Nitpicking, starting fake fights, throwing our irritability at others. Complaining about things that are petty and small.

Okay, I'm worried about me. I can sense it in me. And it is not how I want to act, or react. Grumpiness at the grocery store that just last week I was lauding. The store clerk. My neighbors. My friends. The people I love most in the world, living in my house.

Our feelings follow a predictable model, but we are not required to follow our feelings. I am the captain of my soul, which means that I can create for myself guiding principles that I choose to follow.

These are principles rooted in my core values, and the person I want to be. Even in ... no, especially in ... a disaster.


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